What Goes On
A bunch of very interesting samples were waiting for me when I got home from our Spanish tour. (The rain in Spain does not fall only in the plain!)
Len Bailey, who was responsible for those sadly lamented Melanie FanToms, has come up with something to change your drum sound. He's fabricated pads of very thin plastic film which sit on top of your heads and dampen out some of the less acceptable overtones. They aren't exactly circular since they have two straight edges, so they don't actually touch all the head's surface. What these Headliners do is to take away some of the stick impact and therefore give the impression of thickening the sound. (It makes a single ply head sound like a double ply one.) All regular sized toms would appear to be catered for while the snare drum has a slightly different sort of dampening. It's not advisable to take away that head impact with the snare drum since that tends to mask the definition. So, the company have borrowed an old trick much used by studio players. They've cut a ring to fit to the outside of the head and flatten the tone just a little. (Billy Cobham was the first person I saw with one of these in the early Seventies.)
Cosmetically 'Headliners' bear a resemblance to X-ray plates since they're see through and overprinted with black patterns which look like a circuit diagram. So far they are available in selected drum shops at about £8.
Recent Band Aid and Sport Aid events have made most people aware of the need for short-term assistance to famine-hit countries in the third world, but for long-term improvement there's a need to change trading practices which exploit poorer countries. Hence the formation of Rock Trade, who aim to help bands setup gigs all over the country, with a share of the proceeds going towards investing in organisations which promote fairer terms of trading with the third world.
A major feature of this plan is that of exchange gigs; For example, a band from Bognor Regis could arrange for a band from Milton Keynes to support them at a gig in Bognor Regis, and then get the support slot at a gig at Milton Keynes in return. The man in charge of co-ordinating this effort is Adrian Faiers, who can also help by providing posters, publicity, and information on PA Hire, etc.
Bands interested in Rock Trade and the exchange scheme should write to Adrian at the address below, and include a demo tape, information on the band, and a contact address and phone number — please include a stamped addressed envelope as well. You can then get in touch with him by phone.
Contact - Adrian Faiers, Rock Trade, (Contact Details).
One current musical fashion which is harder than most to deplore is that of the musical philanthropist as modelled by Saint Bo, KBE. One such man is Ray Edwards, who is the architect of a project named 'Pass It On'. This man points out that most musicians who are sufficiently well-off to have unused instruments lying around don't have the time or the inclination to put an ad in the classifieds and sit around waiting for the phone to ring. His solution to their plight is to arrange the donation of said unwanted instruments to kids starting out on their musical careers without the necessary money for gear. Distribution of any surplus fuzzboxes, guitars, Fairlight's etc is being arranged through national and local Boys' and youth clubs. Ray has enlisted the help of the Musicians' Union and various press and pluggers, and the promotion is being centred around an appeal at the Hippodrome on the 6th of August, at which it is hoped there will be various celebrities accompanied by redundant musical articles.
The appeal will continue throughout August and there are various organisations taking calls both in London and nationally, so if you've got something you don't need — pass it on!
CONTACT: National Association of Youth Clubs, (Contact Details)
London Federation of Boys' Clubs, (Contact Details)
London Union of Youth Clubs (Contact Details)
What do Brian May, Bo Diddley and Melvyn Hiscock (who?) have in common? That's right, they all made their own guitars. And while Brian and Bo twang around on their custom jobs Melvyn Hiscock has written a jolly good book on how to make your very own electric guitar and has called it, surprisingly enough, 'Make Your Own Electric Guitar'.
Basically, it's a sort of step-by-step guide on how to make your own custom guitar with the minimum of hassles and the best results, and unlike many other books of this type it doesn't have an overwhelming technical approach which scares you off before you get saw to wood. In fact, it is quite readable and even quite funny in places. The really nice thing about the book, apart from the ease with which everything is explained, is that a lot of the methods shown use fairly ordinary household tools (no not the watering can you fool) and tells you what you are going to need at the beginning rather than half way through. Anyone who is familiar with DIY books/manuals of any type will recognise that feeling of complete despair when you get halfway through chapter 152 and up to your eyeballs in glue and clamps when you suddenly read that the next stage involves a Scrungeworthy's patented thrucket valve clamp. Also unusual for a DIY guide, Melvyn is at pains to state that it's a lot cheaper on the whole and saves an awful lot of grief if you just go and buy a guitar. However, if you are still certain that you want to go through with your foolhardy idea about making the ultimate axe, then this book seems to offer a thorough enough guide.
Make Your Own Electric Guitar is published by Pengelly Mullikan for £5.95.
Whilst dragging my hung-over body around the Messe at Frankfurt I stumbled onto a stand specialising in Metronomes, Tuners and the like. One of them was cunningly disguised as a digital wristwatch and I was surprised to find that it was already on sale in the UK via Summerfields. I am now sporting a sample on my wrist and if you've a couple of minutes to spare I'll tell you about it.
Ostensibly Metrina Multi is a rectangular, multi function, typically Japanese watch. However it has a socket for an earpiece (unfortunately too small for Walkman-type 'phones) and this allows private hearing since it cuts out the speaker built into the watch.
As a watch it will conveniently tell you the time, work as a sophisticated stopwatch and wake you up at least once a day. As a metronome it will pulse out rhythm, with or without a downbeat and work in all the usual time signatures. (The down beat has a sharper tone.) It also has a base tone for tuning purposes which may be adjusted either from C to B in semitones or, whilst viewing the Hertz in the window, may be adjusted backwards or forwards in single digits for more critical tuning purposes. (The note itself will of course be outputted through the earpiece or the watch itself.)
It works very well in all modes but I'm not too sure how much use it would be to a drummer. After all for practice purposes he needs to wave his arms around and, if they are attached to his ear via the phones, complications could result. Of course he would always take the Metrina off his wrist while he's executing his paradiddles.
Seriously though this would prove to be a handy tool for any musician, but perhaps more suited to a studio player. At £45 it's not cheap, but certainly unique.
Following hot on the heels of the Rolling Stones American TV special, another rumour is circulating about the Stones' new project The Biff Hitler Trio! The trio's line up supposedly has Alan Rogan, Keith Richard's roadie, or Ronnie Wood on bass, Chuck Lavell on piano, Don Covay, Jimmy Cliff or Bobby Womack on vocals, Charlie Watts on drums and piano and Keef on guitar. The Trio are also rumoured to be jetting between Paris and New York recording an album and a tour is on the cards.
Whether or not any of this is at all true has yet to be seen but if in six months time you're sitting there thinking what a complete load of cobblers it is, I saw it in a French newspaper and so take no responsibility. You can't believe a thing the French say anyway...
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